14 feared dead as Vietnam tanker capsizes

Other News Materials 6 March 2008 10:27 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Fourteen sailors were feared dead after a small oil tanker capsized off southern Vietnam, putting coastal resorts at risk of an oil slick, officials said Thursday.

The tanker was transporting 1,700 tons of fuel oil from Ho Chi Minh City to Danang when it capsized Sunday night some 80 kilometers northeast of the resort city of Vung Tau, according to Huynh Lam Son, deputy director of Duc Tri Transport Co., which owns the ship.

"There were 15 sailors on board when the accident happened, and so far only one of them has been rescued," Son said.

The remaining 14 sailors are missing and feared dead, said Pham Hien, deputy director of Vietnam's Southern Search and Rescue Center.

"I think all the remaining sailors are stuck in the ship, and we have sent divers to the area," Hien said. "However, the divers have not yet gone in, because we fear the ship may sink and kill the divers too."

Hien said the accident was not discovered until Tuesday, when one of the sailors was picked up by a fishing vessel. No radio distress calls had been detected.

A coast guard official from Binh Thuan province said the tanker was surrounded by a small but spreading oil slick, which had reached about 500 square meters.

The cause of the accident has not been confirmed, but officials said the ship might have capsized while turning towards shore in heavy swells.